By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Human Rights activist and former federal lawmaker that represented Kaduna Central senatorial district, Senator Shehu Sani has slammed the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over their reactions to European Union (EU) report on outcome of the 2023 polls, saying they cannot accept EU’s money to condudhct elections and reject their report of your performance at the end of the polls.
Shehu Sani who reacted via his verified twitter handle @ShehuSani said: “Whenever the EU give you one suitcase of money to condudhct elections, know that they will give you the second suitcase containing their report.”
Sundiata Post recalls that EU had in their final report said Nigeria’s elections early this year were marred by problems that reduced public trust in electoral processes and that reforms to enhance transparency and accountability are needed.
In its final report on the Nigerian elections, the globally acclaimed body said trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been severely damaged, especially as a result of the failure to upload the result of the presidential election electronically.
President Bola Tinubu won the disputed February election, with 37 percent of the vote. The result is being challenged in court by his two main rivals, the People’s Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
However, in a swift reaction, the Presidency rejected the report of the European Union on the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
Responding in a statement on Sunday, Dele Alake, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, described the report as a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on few instances of skirmishes in less than 1000 polling units out of over 176,000 where Nigerians voted on election day.
He said the report relied more on rumours, hearsay, cocktails of prejudiced and uninformed social media commentaries and opposition talking heads.
In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission has chided European Union reports.
Fielding questions on a monitored program on Channels Television, ‘Politics Today’ INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, pointed out that transparency issues by the EU were a general statement as the commission was transparent to key stakeholders in the election.
Okoye said, “It’s a very general statement in terms of transparency; this particular commission has been very transparent. We carried all the critical stakeholders along throughout the planning process for the 2023 general election. Before we released the voters register, and even after we completed the voters register, we engaged all the critical stakeholders, and when we converted our voting points and voting point settlements into full polling units, we carried everybody along.
” The moment we were planning the elections, we carried these stakeholders along. So we were very transparent in terms of our engagement with critical stakeholders.
“Even the EU made it very clear that the election was conducted in a volatile and very challenging environment, and that environment entails security challenges in many parts of the country; secondly, some of the INEC facilities were burned down, and we had to repair these facilities in a very emergency fashion; there were also challenges in different situations of the country relating to the naira redesign; and also relating to some of the transport companies we engage, so you have to look at these contexts in analyzing if INEC performed or not during the 2023 general election.
Asked if the commission regretted engaging those who disappointed Nigerians during the elections, he said, “Those who performed well far outweigh the few people that disappointed the Nigerian people and also betrayed their oath.”
Sundiata Post further recalls that in their report, the EU identified key areas that INEC should improve on, including lack of transparency in the electoral process, ambiguities in the law, the establishment of a publicly accountable process for the selection of the INEC, ensuring the real-time publication of results as well as access to election results, protection for media practitioners, and decrying the discrimination against women in elective and appointed positions as well as impunity regarding electoral offences.